Just so you know, im outing myself. Im a microwave user. We are a MUF (microwave using family). It lives in the pantry, so its on when no ones around and Im not convinced of the research which shows health effects of food thats been microwaved. So Im outing myself as a'microwaver' when it comes to heating leftovers and milk for my one coffee a day. And, just for the record, when it comes to cooking real food, Im a self professed snob and believe that real, good food cannot be 'cooked' in a microwave. Just thought id get all that out there.
I'd seen the research years ago on mutated male fish living in a river downstream from a plastics factory, where the factory waste was run off into the river, contaminating the river and the fish living in it with bisphenol A. The resulting endocrine disruption in the fish was shown to be associated with high exposure to these chemicals, resulting in hemaphrodite fish. The freaky fish freaked me but I have to confess that as an epidemiologist i was very jealous of such a research discovery, what a Eureka! moment. So my holiday exposure to pyrex caused a serious rethink of my household practice.
Evidence from human studies in the last few years suggests some link to cancer in children from exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a component of only some plastics, and supression of male hormones in boys and some birth defects. Canada banned plastic food containers marketed for babies due to the mimicking by the body to exposure to BPA. The epidemiology does not suggest a causal relationship, but an association with higher rates of reproductive and endocrine problems and exposure to BPA. For a good synthesis of the debate read this and new research links high levels of BPA in human urine with increased odds of heart disease;up to 2-3 times greater with higher levels of BPA.
Frederick vom Saal, a professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia in the US, who specifically studies oestrogenic chemicals in plastics, warns parents to “steer clear of polycarbonate baby bottles. They’re particularly dangerous for newborns, whose brains, immune systems and gonads are still developing”. Vom Saal’s research spurred him to throw out every polycarbonate plastic item in his house and to stop buying plastic-wrapped food and canned goods (cans are plastic-lined) at the grocery store. (Read the rest of the article here).
Our house is built on biological building principles, constructed and clad with recycled timbers, contains no electromagentic fields due to fully timber framing and placement of wiring and contains no plastic wall paints or varnish and no MDF so the mountain of plastic storage containers in the cupboard is a little incongruous. Borne of having small children i think; so many small bits and scraps and rather unbreakable. So my pyrex obsession continues until my plan to remove the majority of plasticizer-emitting materials from the the household food chain is complete. I am also rethinking the dozen mixed cans of tomatoes, corn, lentils and coconut milk i have in the pantry. So , even though i use it rarely, sayonara cling wrap, dried out food and plate covered bowls in the fridge and ' Hello' safe and neat and tidy.
New problem. What to do with all the Tupperware?